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Race Preview: Esports Virtual Spanish Grand Prix

With the rise of Virtual Racing to the masses and last week’s first official Formula Two race we are back again this week with Round Two in Spain and the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. 

This, of course, is the virtual equivalent, however, the drivers behind the sim are very real, and they’re racing each other fiercely! 

The competition is hot, and like real life, they are embracing the connections with each other.  Luca Ghiotto commented in a recent follow up to the Bahrain Grand Prix that it’s, “…a nice way to keep in touch with the others.” (fiaformula2.com) 

The melting pot of drivers from a variety of formulas is making for exciting viewing, as we are not only watching the Formula 2 drivers we know and love, we are also getting the opportunity to see potential F2 drivers of the future.  

The circuit is well known to the drivers in all categories due to its standing as a Formula One race circuit since 1991.

In the virtual world, however, one element that isn’t always a certainty are the game settings such as the weather system. The wind direction can change course without warning, making it challenging for the aerodynamic set up of the cars, as both understeer and oversteer can be interchangeable. Will the event organisers simulate this to spice things up a little? Or maybe they’ll consider a wet race.

The circuit’s a fan favourite because it’s an overtaking track, where long corners, fast chicanes, and the long straights can be made use of; Turn 1 usually sees most of the overtaking action. Last year saw some plucky overtaking manoeuvres, one from Carlin’s, Nobuharu Matsushita outside of Turn 5.

Race fans will know that the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is an opportunity to see who has the raw skills as well as courage given its good mix of straights and corners, this is the main factor as to why it is chosen by Formula One as the official test circuit.

Jack Aitken will no doubt be looking to repeat the success of 2018 where he won the Sprint Race and finished second in the 2019 Feature race.

Guanyu Zhou may be inspired with the memory of his first F2 podium last year, driving the Uni-Virtuosi Racing car. The 2019 rookie finished an impressive third in the Feature race and fourth in the Sprint.

Callum Ilott (then racing for Charouz) also earned his first F2 podium by finishing third in the 2019 Sprint race.

And, Sean Gelael will also be hoping he makes the same dream start to his race as he did last year.

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The Starting Grid 

This weekend’s race sees some changes from last week’s Bahrain GP. Jack Doohan switches from the BWT HWA RACELAB seat to Carlin, joining third-place Sprint race finisher, Norman Nato.

Théo Pourcharie keeps his seat with ART, and joining him is F2’s 2012 Championship winner, turned Sky Sports Italia star, Davide Valsecchi.

Sean Gelael takes his rightful seat at DAMS alongside last week’s starter, Oliver Rowland, who finished second in the Feature race.

Callum Ilott retains his seat with Uni-Virtuosi and joining him, this season’s teammate, Guanya Zhou.

Unless you’ve been self-isolating with a social-media ban, it’s not difficult to understand why Arthur Leclerc returns to PREMA with F4’s, Sebastian Montoya, son of Formula 1 favourite, Juan Pablo Montoya.

There’s no change at Charouz Racing System. Last week’s Sprint race second placer, Louis Delétraz returns, as does Juan Manuel Correa, who nobody thought we would see racing again this season. But with the power technology and his own power of recovery, motorsport fans worldwide are very glad to see him present.

Real-world championship favourite Jack Aitken is joined by the Campos Formula Three driver Sophia Floersch.

Everything stays the same at MP Motorsport, with Nobuharu Matsushita and Felipe Drugovich suiting and booting up.

Artem Markelov takes the role at BWT HWA RACELAB, with the spirit of Antoine Hubert racing alongside him. *BWT Enters one car #18 – #19 is reserved for Antoine Hubert’s memory

And finally, Olli Caldwell and Lirim Zendelli join forces again, for Trident’s campaign.

What are you hoping for in this week’s Virtual Grand Prix? 
More duals from Aitken and Ilott? Leclerc, with another clean sweep? Or a poignant win for Correa, or Floersch? Let us know your thoughts!

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Round 2 – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: Sunday 10th May 2020. 15:00 UTC/16:00 BST

How to Watch: F1 Youtube  & Twitch channels 

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#RaceAtHome #RoadtoF1

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By L.A. Wilshaw

@1_LA

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